Patent – Invalidity

USPTO Maintains Standard for Indefiniteness in Rare Precedential Opinion

Decision on Appeal, Ex parte McAward et al., No. 2015-006416 (P.T.A.B. August 25, 2017) (Judges Linda E. Horner, Annette R. Reimers and Nathan A. Engels)

The Supreme Court’s decision in Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2120 (2014), revised the standard for finding a patent indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 2 (now 35 U.S.C. § 112(b)).  In the wake of this decision, it was unclear whether the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) would change its long-held standard for applying indefiniteness rejections during original patent application examination, based on Nautilus.  The PTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) recently issued a rare precedential decision, announcing that the PTO’s examination standard will not change. READ MORE

Preventing Identity Theft—A Tale as Old as Time According to Judge Palermo When She Invalidated Patent Claims for Identity Theft Prevention Software Under § 101

Order Granting Summary Judgment in favor of Defendants, Mantissa Corp. v Ondot Systems, Inc., et al, S.D. Tex. (August 10, 2017) (Magistrate Judge Dena Palermo)

Litigants continue to use Alice and its progeny as a powerful tool to invalidate business method and software patents.  That’s what happened recently in Mantissa Corp. v. Ondot Systems, Inc., et al, when Magistrate Judge Palermo of the Southern District of Texas invalidated fifty-two claims asserted by a software company from two of its patents (U.S. Patent Nos. 7,779,456 and 8,353,027) covering a “method of protecting use of an entity’s identity, the method being executed on electronic computer hardware in combination with software,” i.e., identity protection software for banking cards.  In invalidating the claims under § 101, Judge Palermo relied heavily on comparisons to claims invalidated as abstract ideas in previous cases, including Alice, and ultimately found that the patent claims at issue covered merely a computer-implemented method of preventing identity theft—an idea that has “existed since the dawn of civilization.” READ MORE

“Weight” a Minute – Upon Further Review Those Claims Are Not Indefinite

Commission Opinion, Certain UV Curable Coatings For Optical Fibers, and Products Containing the Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-1031 (August 11, 2017) (ITC)

We previously posted – “Weight” a Minute- Those Claims Are Indefinite – about Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) MaryJoan McNamara’s Initial Determination (“ID”), finding claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,706,659 (“the ’659 patent”) indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 2 (pre-AIA).  The United States International Trade Commission (“ITC”) recently reversed and vacated that ID.  The ’659 patent is entitled “Coated Optical Fiber” and claims primary coating compositions and primary coatings.

Complainants DSM Desotech, Inc. and DSM IP Assets B.V. petitioned the Commission to review the ID; Respondent Momentive UV Coatings (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (“MUV”) and the Office of Unfair Import Investigations opposed the petition.  In its petition for review, DSM argued that the ALJ’s construction of the disputed claim term referred to an “average molecular weight” and that term was not indefinite. READ MORE

“Weight” a Minute – Those Claims Are Indefinite!

Initial Determination Granting MUV’s Motion for Summary Determination That Claims 16-18, 21, and 30 of U.S. Patent No. 7,076,659 are Invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 112, Certain UV Curable Coatings For Optical Fibers, and Products Containing the Same, ITC Inv. No. 337-TA-1031 (July 6, 2017) (ALJ MaryJoan McNamara)

In a rare move for the ITC, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) MaryJoan McNamara granted a motion for summary determination by Respondent Momentive UV Coatings (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (“MUV”) finding that several claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,706,659 (“the ’659 patent”) are indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 2 (pre-AIA). The ’659 patent is entitled “Coated Optical Fiber” and claims primary coating compositions and primary coatings.

This decision is significant because it is relatively unusual for ALJs to grant motions for summary determination on technical issues. Section 337 investigations move very quickly and motions for summary determination are often filed less than three months before the start of the hearing, so there is often little efficiency to be gained from granting such motions. READ MORE

Patent Reviews Get Supreme Court Review

In a move that could have major implications for patent litigation in the Northern District of California as well as every other District, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the issue of whether inter partes reviews and certain other America Invents Act proceedings are unconstitutional because they can result in invalidation of a patent without a jury trial.  We invite you to read a full account, written by our colleague Don Daybell, on Orrick’s website here.

Trying to Erase the Past: Judge Won’t Vacate Section 101 Ruling After Settlement

Order Denying Motion to Vacate Judgment, Protegrity USA, Inc. v. Netskope, Inc., Case No. 15-cv-02515-YGR (Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers)

When parties settle a case, they usually want to put it all behind them and move on. But what if the court’s decisions still hang over their heads? Protegrity thought it could erase the past by agreeing with its opponent to have an undesirable ruling vacated, but it learned the hard way that such a result is outside the parties’ control. READ MORE

Prior Art Take 2: Finjan and Sophos Gear up for a Second Battle on Whether Prior Art Was Publicly Available

Order Denying Finjan, Inc.’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Finjan, Inc. v. Sophos, Inc., Case No. 14-cv-1197 (Judge William Orrick)

In a battle that likely felt like déjà vu for the parties, Finjan for the second time argued its patents were valid over Sophos’s prior art because Sophos failed to produce sufficient evidence of public availability. The first time was in a 2010 Delaware action, when Finjan unsuccessfully made this same argument with respect to similar patents and similar prior art. Those patents were ultimately held invalid based on the prior art. In the present case, Sophos’s invalidity case survived yet again. But Sophos could have had a more resounding victory had it adequately disclosed all of its prior art earlier in the case. READ MORE

Section 101 Blocks Caller ID Patent

Order Granting Judgment on the Pleadings, Whitepages, Inc. v. Isaacs, et al., Case No. 16-cv-00175-RS (Judge Richard Seeborg)

Litigants continue to use Alice and its progeny to cull the ranks of patents asserted in the Northern District.  In Whitepages v. Isaacs, Judge Seeborg considered a patent that purported to bring caller ID to mobile phones and the internet.  His opinion holding the patent invalid mentions factors that are becoming familiar hallmarks of patents vulnerable to § 101 challenges: reciting longstanding business practices, invoking industry-standard technology, and requiring no more than generic use of computers. READ MORE

No Good Cause? No Amendment.

Order Denying Defendant’s Motion for Leave to Supplement Invalidity Contentions, MLC Intellectual Property, LLC v. Micron Tech., Inc., Case No. 14-cv-03657 (Judge Susan Illston)

In the Northern District of California, as with other districts, invalidity contentions are meant to crystalize theories early in litigation and prevent the “shifting sands approach to claim construction.” Once disclosed, those invalidity contentions may only be amended “by order of the Court upon a timely showing of good cause.” Patent L.R. 3-6. Defendant Micron failed to demonstrate good cause when it recently sought to amend its January 2015 invalidity contentions to add (1) two well-known textbooks from 1973 and 1990 and (2) two of MLC’s non-asserted, expired patents.  Judge Illston thus denied Micron’s motion in its entirety. READ MORE

A Time For Everything: Defendant Can Add To Invalidity Contentions After The Lifting Of A Years-Long Stay

Order Granting Leave to Amend Invalidity Contentions, Richtek Technology Corp. v.. uPI Semiconductor Corp., et al., Case No. 09-cv-05659-WHA (Judge William Alsup)

Much can change procedurally while a patent case is stayed, especially if the parties continue to litigate the patent in other jurisdictions.  In Richtek, the parties returned to district court after the conclusion of reexamination proceedings and two related ITC investigations.  Defendant uPI moved to amend its invalidity contentions, originally served in December 2010, to account for claim interpretations that the plaintiff Richtek disclosed during reexamination.  Judge Alsup permitted the amendment, which added new prior art references, while distinguishing a decision he had rendered a month earlier which precluded Richtek from adding new accused products. READ MORE